Dark Prince by Christine Feehan
(Love Spell, $4.99, R) ISBN 0-505-52330-2
Dark Prince is a dark tale of a hunted species living by its wits and finely-honed animal instincts and in desperate need of child-bearing women. The salvation of their leader is through his finding a mate amidst a group of tourists staying at a little inn in the Carpathian Mountains. Feehan explores the difference between her Carpathians and vampires. While her Dark Prince is no vampire, this book will attract readers who have a fascination with romance fiction involving vampires.

In Feehan’s story, a vampire is a Carpathian who has “turned,” allowing the darkness within, the monster, to become all-consuming. A vampire stalks and seduces humans, feeding on them, resulting in death. Though Mikhail Dubrinsky does prey upon humans, hypnotizing them in a way, in order to “feed” at night, he is not a vampire. Blood sources for the Carpathian leader walk away, perhaps feeling a little tipsy but none the worse for wear, giving Mikhail a friendly goodbye.

Raven Whitney, an American with psychic abilities, has come to a remote village in the Carpathian Mountains to rest and recover after helping the FBI track down a serial killer. Her telepathic abilities have always isolated her from her fellow humans. She is able to sense others’ thoughts and feelings and get inside their minds.

Feehan creates a wonderful first chapter, during which Raven and Mikhail have their first encounter through mental telepathy. He shape shifts, flying through the night to perch on Raven’s balcony, observing her as she sleeps. For a while, Raven has no idea who the mind is with which she is communicating. Mikhail knows from the beginning and sets his sights on this woman, knowing instinctively Raven is his life mate.

Carpathian dogma prohibits combining sexual intimacy with a human female and feeding upon her. Poor Mikhail -- what guilt. When he finds his life mate after six centuries, he cannot stop himself from breaking the rule. Not just that, he is so thirsty for this long-lost mate, he practically drinks her to death.

A group of humans threatening Mikhail’s Carpathians seem a credible menace initially. But despite some telepathic power on the part of one of them and the extra boost fanaticism provides to those under its sway, they are easily dispensed with once the call goes out to Mikhail and he comes running, actually drifting in on the mist.

The story begins in an interesting way, with two attractive characters and good give-and-take between Mikhail and Raven as their relationship develops. However, by the middle of the book, the plot derails and the dialogue becomes tedious. The final third of the book is so unbelievable it borders on parody.

Some readers may be interested enough in vampires and related lore to overlook a weak cast of secondary characters and a weakening storyline. Still, anyone reading Dark Prince will get a good dose of lovemaking and doctoring the Carpathian way.

--Sue Klock

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